Home to Hellcat, Burning Heart and Anti-Records
Transplants, Bombshell Rocks, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Beat Steaks, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, Hot Water Music, Tiger Army, The Distillers and F-Minus, Raised Fist...
Epitaph Records has kept the spirit of punk, garage and riff rock (in all its unusual combinations) alive for years. Beginning with the self-titled Bad Religion EP in 1981, the company has released a steady stream of near classics for over 20 years. The parent company has four imprints, Epitaph, Burning Heart, Anti-, and Hellcat Records. Each features a sub genre falling under the mighty umbrella of guitar-based rock music. Epitaph itself has seen pioneering bands and individuals like MC5's Wayne Kramer, Zeke, Agnostic Front, NOFX, Hot Water Music, International Noise Conspiracy and Beat Steaks walk through their door.
Hellcat is the most recent organized and has released the likes of the Transplants, Tiger Army, The Distillers and F-Minus to name a few. Burning Hart is home to Bombshell Rocks, The Hives, Division Of Laura Lee, The Peepshows and Raised Fist as well as many others. Anti- sees new releases from Nick Cave And The Bad Seed, Tom Waits, Merle Haggard and Grammy winner Solomon Burke. As huge fans of the label we are featuring several release from each of the imprints. Check ‘em out below and then hit their web site: www.epitaph.com
Fusing the talents of Rancid's Tim Armstrong, Blink 182's Travis Barker and newcomer Rob Aston, the Transplants merge elements of hard-core, hip-hop, electronic, reggae and punk rock to forge a genuine original sound. Combining a hybrid of influences that range from old English Dogs to G.B.H. the trio reconstruct aggression in a surprisingly new way. Recorded in Armstrong's home basement studio the 12-track disc includes four songs, 'Romper Stomper', 'Tall Cans In The Air', 'California Babylon' and 'Diamonds And Guns' first featured on Epitaph's web site in mid October.
Many things are cool about this CD but the best is the fact that Aston had never been in a band before when he was asked by Armstrong to write lyrics to a song he had put together in Pro Tools. "It was incredible,” says Aston, “like nothing I had ever done before.” In searching for the best drummer they could find to amalgamate their new-found sound, the duo contacted Barker. “We pitched him the idea,” admits Aston, “and before even hearing the songs, he was on board.” The chemistry between the three is unmistakable and the sound is unbelievable.
‘Romper Stomper’ gets the blood flowing with a visceral delivery merging a metal rap over a surging, skull-crushing riff. Then, shaking things up, the band groove into ‘Tall Cans In The Air,’ their self-proclaimed “party song.” Not your everyday macho band statement, it plays with elements of the Beastie Boys’ catchy and unusual texture with rap syncs over a hard core thump. ‘Diamond and Guns’ totally throws a curve ball when the piano takes center stage and pushes the vocal through to the other side all the while the guitar accents to the flow.
The guitar-heavy thrillers are the gutsy ‘One Seventeen’ and the disturbing ‘Quick Death’ before the melody of expanding grit anchors ‘Sad But True’, the low-fi solid rock of ‘Weigh On My Mind’ and the reggae-rich ‘California Babylon.’ A retro, mid-tempo beat hovers over ‘We Trusted You’ which sets up the moody cascade that it ‘Down In Oakland’ Thought-provoking, ‘Down In Oakland’ opens with a gun shot the swaggers in with a funky western swing. It breath originality and leaves the song spinning in your heard long after the CD has stopped.
The Transplants cover is bathed in blue with a photo of a car parked in a south LA alley. Though it might not have been their intension, a wall mural drapes the background depicting two characters in gas masks an uncanny symbol this close to war. The California licensed plate reads, “Hellcat Records.”
From Here And On
Burning Heart Records
Bringing their own interpretation of pop-punk to the US is Orebro, Sweden's Bombshell Rocks. "From Here And On" is the bands third effort laced this catchy back-alley riffs and soaked in the used oil of Green Day meets Ramones. A nightmare organ intro welcomes the listener to the melodic "vampire-like" strains that kick the record off before the bite of 'Begging For Mercy' raging in like a bulldozer. Far more polished than either "Street Art Gallery" (1999) or "City Rats And Alleycats" (2000), the five-piece opt for a more melodic edge. 'On My Way' which pulsates with a dominant beat (though a little light on the guitars) until the end when they move in unison around an awesome melody. This song is catchy as hell
The bands true talent lies in blending styles which seem diametrically opposed, yet fuse together under their craft into meaty chunks of proud rock. 'Warpath' begins subtle enough, then launches into hyper speed before easing into a chugging middle. Title track, 'From Here And On' brings a thick layered sound with the muscular drum work of Thomas Falk. A quintessential road / relationship song the lyrics proudly read, "From here we can only go forward / you and me we keep the dream alive."
Great anthems pepper this saucy gem with 'My Own War', 'Almost Free' and 'Untitled' which go for a far more frantic run and deliver the goods at full speed. 'Out Of The Cold' slows it down with a plodding, eager and aggressive punk-pop drive - all tied together with a ripping guitar solo. Strange at first is the inclusion of 'By The Blink Of An Eye.' The song kicks off with a country ting before unleashing a fierce run - very reminiscent of the Supersuckers with yet another blazing guitar solo. The band is a tidal wave of guitars and drums and bass with Marten Cedergran rumbling vocals riding the top.
NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS
After the demise of Australian Goth pioneers Birthday Party in 1983, singer/songwriter Nick Cave assembled the Bad Seeds. The post-punk supergroup featured former Birthday Party guitarist Mick Harvey on drums, ex-Magazine bassist Barry Adamson, and Einstürzende Neubauten guitarist Blixa Bargeld. In this new-found structure Cave continued to explore his obsessions with religion, death, love, America, and violence with a bizarre, sometimes self-consciously eclectic hybrid of blues, gospel, rock, and arty post-punk. Cave's deep baritone mixed with gloomy lyrics and dark musical arrangements recall a Leonard Cohen meet Tom Waits style.
On his new release "Nocturama" for Anti-, Cave and company are in a blissful state easily moving from the languishing piano poetry of 'He Wants You' and orchestral harmonies of 'Right Out Of Your Hand' to the more rowdy edge of 'Dead Man In My Bed'. Twelve albums into a solo career Cave continues to deliver top-notch, thought provoking melodies. 'Bring It On' is a prime example of the performers ability to pave a sultry groove, then bring it up to a mid-tempo stomp. Where 'Still In Love' brings a generous romanticism to the maverick songwriters stable of honest, heart felt moodiness.
A superbly crafted album, "Nocturama" mixes a powerful bass, flawless keyboards, swelling guitars and delicately measured songs against Caves cunning dark presentation. Reminiscent of such classics as "Murder Ballads" and "The Boatman's Call" the album perfectly balances complex moods and styles. For a limited time the disc will be shipped with a bonus DVD featuring the video for "Babe, I'm On Fire" the album's funky 15-minute epic.
Reaching out from a wall of feedback is the angst-riddled voice of Arnim Teutoburg-Weiss whose cunning allure entangles, then embraces punk melodies like chainsaws to wood. Together with the duel-guitar assault of Peter Baumann and Bernd Kurtzke and the punch of rhythm section Torsten Scholz (bass) and Thomas Gotz (drums) the band's second opus "Living Targets" explodes with musical energy and rhythmic muscle.
Produced by Uwe Sabirowsky and former Faith No More bassist Billy Gould, the Berlin natives shine on clamoring ditties 'Not Ready To Rock', 'Above Us' and the brilliant 'This One'. They ooze of retro Stooges, harmonic riffs and jaugernut beats. Formed in high school, the team recorded a four-track demo that sold over 1000 copies and garnered them the support slot for the Sex Pistols show in Berlin.
Raving press put them on major tours including the Warped Tour where they shared the stage with Pennywise and Die Toten Hosen. Disciplined road dogs yielded the 2000 release of "Launched", a power-punk double header paving the way for this years "Living Targets" The five-piece street gang have fine-tuned their tight wave of crushing guitars with a hypnotic epic center. From the fuzzed out bliss of 'Disconnected' to the screeching of 'Let Me In' and the sledgehammer effect of 'Mirrored' is stunning.
THE (INTERNATIONAL) NOISE CONSPIRACY
Bigger Cages, Longer Chains
Released in January 2002, ‘Bigger Cages, Longer Chains’ is the third outing for the Umeå, Sweden group. Dipped in a vat of garage rock meets punk expression meets soul, the five-piece sell a gripping platter which celebrates their political views while injecting new trends into an old genre. The disc hosts five new compositions and a cover that are paved in political satire and dripping with rebellion.
Each track is earmarked with a political quote describing either the songs title or meaning behind the title. It is lead vocalist Dennis Lyxzén and guitarist/vocalist Lars Strömberg’s intent to use the music the group creates as a political vehicle while still creating enthusiastic gritty punk anthems. ‘Bigger Cages, Longer Chains’ brings in a thick organ sound with a saxophone overtone. It paints an early ‘60s mood complete with a thumping backbeat sounding straight off a Nancy Sinatra 45.
Roughing up the sound is ‘Beautiful So Alone.’ Much closer to last year’s full length, it uses crashing guitars and Ramones-esque liberation to erect a back drop of weathered dynamics. Nice and heavy, it melts into a richly patterned tambourine. Covering the N.E.R.D.’s ‘Baby Doll gives the bass and the drum equal footing allowing both to rise to the top and bask in the spotlight. Superbly done, it winds nicely into the records power monster ‘Waiting For Salvation’. Everything comes together on this, the fourth track - lyrics work right into a massive pop romp complete with train wreck ending. Brilliant!
‘A Textbook Example’ goes back to ‘60s swing. Its angst brings back flashes of Pink Floyd provoking and meaningful. And it sounds oddly like there might be a set of bagpipes hitting some of those higher notes. ‘When Words Are Not Working’ mixes a set of layered sound elements over a rim tap before jamming a every instrument on stage for the chorus. The song builds up a wonderful pace giving it room to breathe while making the most of its musical style.